‘Welcome to Wonderland: Sandapalooza Shake-Up’ by Chris Grabenstein is the 3rd book in the Wacky Wonderland Motel series

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Move aside, Disney World! Here comes the Wonderland Motel in “Sandapalooza Shake-Up,” the third book in the humorous mystery series by clever children’s author Chris Grabenstein. Fans of the series know that P.T. and his friend Gloria solve mysteries while having a great time in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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‘The Unicorn Quest’ by Kamilla Benko Is a Creative Tale of Magic, Unicorns, and Sisterly Love

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Middle grade fantasy lovers will adore “The Unicorn Quest” by Kamilla Benko. It’s about sisters Sophie and Claire, who move with their parents into their Great-Aunt’s mansion after her mysterious disappearance.

Sophie is the older sister, the one who adores adventures. She calls them Experiences. Claire often follows along, but she’s the quieter sister, preferring to stay home and draw. The dark frightens Claire. Sophie had almost died of a strange illness and then was “magically” (according to the doctors who couldn’t figure it out) cured.

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‘This Fallen Prey’ by Kelley Armstrong Is the Third in the Rockton Series

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“This Fallen Prey” by Kelley Armstrong is the third entry in the novel series about Rockton, a place in the far North Canadian Yukon where the permafrost never melts and a hidden settlement protects people who need to disappear for almost any reason.

Casey (not her real name) arrived at Rockton in the first book to be the detective. She was fleeing her old life and embraced the chance to start over in Rockton. What she didn’t expect was the plethora of killings that she then needed to solve.

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‘The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Rome’ and ‘The Thrifty Guide to the American Revolution’ Are Both ‘Handbooks for Time Travelers’ by Jonathan W. Stokes

 

Kids who love reading about history and facts will love “The Thrifty Guide” books, billed as “A Handbook for Time Travelers,” a time-traveling series by talented author Jonathan W. Stokes. Sprinkled throughout the books are references to vacation packages to exotic places/times like ancient Rome and other hot locales. There are also legal warnings like this one:

“If you are shot by a British musket, just remember, you signed a waiver. Enjoy your trip to the American Revolution!”

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‘Marabel and the Book of Fate’ by Tracy Barrett Is a Middle Grade Fantasy With Princesses and Unicorns But also Plenty of Feminist Appeal

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“Marabel and the Book of Fate” by Tracy Barrett is a clever book about a young girl, a princess, who is not afraid to act in spite of often being treated as if she is a fragile creature with no brains and no abilities.

Marabel’s twin brother, Marcos, was born at the exact moment to fulfill a prophesy in the Book of Fate, a book with truths (or so those who translate it believe), so he is considered the Chosen One. What that exactly means is unclear, but Marcos is all-important and Marabel, his twin, who was born one minute later, feels invisible. Her mother died when they were young, her stepmother is kind, but her father, the king, is rather distant and uninvolved.

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‘Marty Pants: Keep Your Paws Off!’ by Mark Parisi Perfect for Young Readers

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“Marty Pants: Keep Your Paws Off!” by Mark Parisi is the perfect book for readers who enjoy “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.” And, of course, every boy between the ages of seven and seventeen loves the “Diary” books, so this book should be an easy sell.

In this second book in the series, Marty thinks he’s turning into a werewolf. The story shows him going through stages of being certain the changes are happening and then thinking it’s not true. As Marty goes through his day at home with his older sister, and then at school on picture day, readers will smile and laugh out loud at the situations in which Marty finds himself.

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‘The Demon Crown: A Sigma Force Novel’ by James Rollins Delivers Action

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James Rollins fans will not be disappointed with “The Demon Crown,” his latest “Sigma Force” novel detailing yet one more way the world as we know it might end. This thriller is filled with action, adventure, science, and a roller-coaster of plot twists and turns.

One of Rollins’ many talents in writing a series is his ability to make each novel as much a stand-alone book as possible given that the characters reappear in most of the “Sigma Force” novels. Sigma Force is the shadowy, secret arm of the government agency DARPA, run by Painter Crowe and his able team. Rollins manages to give new readers a real sense of the characters while not boring those who have read other books in the series — it’s a talent.

In this story, the team is fighting an enemy who has unleashed what are clearly wasps from hell. These huge creatures are truly nightmarish, and even worse is what results after they sting someone. Let’s just say they leave behind more than only a stinger. And Rollins describes it all in excruciating detail — really. Some readers may not want to be eating a meal while reading about the effect of the wasps’ attacks.

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‘The Piper’s Apprentice’ Is the Last Novel in ‘The Secrets of the Pied Piper’ series by Matthew Cody

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Matthew Cody’s books are much beloved by middle grade readers and with good cause. Like his latest trilogy, “The Secrets of the Pied Piper,” all his books feature fabulous characters, thrilling plots, and some really good writing.

In “The Piper’s Apprentice,” the last book in the series, Cody does what is all-too-often missing from last books in a series, he manages to include enough information about what has happened that the reader isn’t lost by reading this book without having just reread the first two books. And if the reader is reading all three books in a row (lucky reader!), he or she will not even notice that bit of extra information that keeps someone who read the second book in the series a year ago from feeling lost.

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‘Truly Devious’ by Maureen Johnson Is a Thrilling Mystery

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“Truly Devious” by much-loved young adult author Maureen Johnson is a fabulous novel. It begins as a mystery about a murder that took place over 80 years ago at an elite private school in Vermont.

The novel is really two stories combined into one mystery. There is the decades-old mystery of Albert Ellingham’s wife and daughter, who disappeared while on a car ride. The wife’s body was found, but there has been no trace of the three-year-old daughter, and what happened to her remains a mystery. The kidnappers did contact Ellingham, demanded a huge sum of money, and escaped with the money.

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‘Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow’ by Jessica Townsend Is a Fantasy Trip Through a Magical Country

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“Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow” by Jessica Townsend is a middle grade fantasy about Morrigan Crow who, at the start of the novel, is fated to die before her eleventh birthday. She is a “cursed” child, whose very presence brings bad luck to those around her.

Her mother is dead, and she lives with her extremely horrible father, her emotionally distant stepmother, and her grandmother. Only her grandmother even marginally appears to feel affection for Morrigan. In one terribly sad scene, Morrigan hears her father talking about how it would make more sense to educate his hunting dogs because Morrigan will not live much longer.

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